Lately, the Bloc Quebecois have been seeing their polling numbers drop by pretty much every polling firm these days. While they still hold a commanding lead, and 308.com’s last seat projections pretty much have the Bloc remaining in tact, with one gainp–Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier currently held by independent Conservative, Andre Arthur. So, why are the Bloc’s numbers dropping slowly but surely as of late?
I’ve been hearing the usual arguments that Quebeckers are tired of not having ‘sufficient representation’ or wanting ‘stronger representation’ in Ottawa. Or that Quebeckers prefer to follow the winners. Many suggesting that sovereignty is dead and buried. So, have Quebeckers developped a new found love for federalism? Not likely. I could buy the whole following the winners thing. I could even buy the argument that like many Canadians, they’re sick of minority governments and have developped a pathological phobia of polling stations (support for the Harpercons). However, I think there is more to those last two reasons.
In the first place, the Harpercons have not consistently remained in second place behind the Bloc since the campaign began. In fact, as La Presse’s Mallory Beauchemin pointed out this morning, all three federalist parties are polling similarly in La Belle Province. Anyone who has been following the various polls of late could see that Liberals, Harpercons and NDP have been taking turns being a distant second to the Bloc. The federalist vote is too split.
Mme Beauchemin also pointed out that perhaps we’re planning in advance? Although the next provincial election is not for another 2 years, approximately, more than likely, the separatist Parti-Quebecois will take over the province and that Quebeckers traditionally prefer a balance; if they put a separatist party in Quebec City, they’ll vote to send federalists to Ottawa. Although, there has been an exception to that rule. Remember in the 90s, right around the time of the 95 referendum; the Bloc was in official opposition and the PQ were in power. Perhaps she’s right, but I wanted to point out that so-called balance of having separatists and federalists alternating in Quebec City and Ottawa doesn’t always apply. Right now, 308.com’s seat projection still has the Bloc winning in Quebec.
There is perhaps another reason. Something no one is talking about these days, not even the French media as of late with the upcoming election taking up media space. That is, this Friday, April 15, Parti-Quebecois leader, Pauline Marois has her leadership confidence vote. She needs 76% of the vote from her party delegates, if I’m not mistaken, to continue floating. If she does somehow survive her leadership vote, then, of course, there’s nothing to talk about; business as usual. However, if she, indeed, loses, as many predict she will, then that could be a game changer in this federal election campaign in Quebec. I have to wonder if others are thinking the same thing?
Many have predicted that Gilles Duceppe would throw his hat in the PQ leadership ring should Marois fail to achieve the confidence of her delegates. Yes, two other names have been touted like Pierre Curzi and Bernard Drainville. However, awhile ago, the party elders like Jacques Parizeau and Bernard Landry did say that they saw Duceppe as the best person to bring sovereignty to Quebec. While they no longer are MNAs, they’re still very much around and I gather they still have some influence amongst the separatists.
Obviously, whether Duceppe plans to throw his hat in the leadership ring or not, he will do his best to keep mum at least from April 15 until May 2, when the federal election campaign is over. Though, I’m sure he will have his hands full trying to avoid such questions. The more he will avoid such questions, the more that pundits like Jean Lapierre and newspaper columnists will speculate on TV, radio and their respective newspapers. Remember how these things go, it doesn’t have to be true, it only has to be plausible.
As such, assuming Duceppe leaves the BQ for the leadership race of the PQ, he’d have to leave shortly after the federal election has come and gone to begin his bid. Will this be on voters’ minds? If so, this could potentially swing some voter intentions, as they may not wish to support a leader who could leave soon afterwards, even if it is to further a Quebec cause.
I guess we won’t know anything until all is said and done after this Friday. It will be interesting to see how the media treats this and speculates about Duceppe’s future, especially with the French media. Assuming, of course, as mentioned above, Ms La Marois loses her leadership review.